Exploring the role of social dialogue in local economic development: a case of a South African local economic development agency
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The world is experiencing a growing recognition of the role of social dialogue in the pursuit of inclusive sustainable economic development. However, the sidelining of non-governmental actors in South Africa's local government-led development landscape has hampered this agenda. This alienating culture led to the establishment of local economic development agencies (LeDas) as structures tasked with fostering a participatory approach to local economic development (LeD) for an effective response to developmental challenges. This article explored the role of social dialogue in LeD through a case study of one LeDa in South africa. a qualitative approach was deployed by conducting semi-structured interviews with key gatekeepers in the LeD space. The findings reveal that whereas social dialogue is embraced at the national level, there is minimal understanding and usage of social dialogue at the local government level. Nevertheless, social dialogue strategies (information sharing, consultation, negotiation, joint decision-making and problem-solving) are used by the LeDa and its various stakeholders. The article argues that there is a need to align the national social dialogue with the local social dialogue through LeDas to strengthen institutional arrangements for LeD.